Volunteers preserve the Holkham dunes

Holkham Habitat Clearance'Volunteers, outlined against the sky, prepare to work on an area of invasive Corsican pine tree seedlings
Holkham Habitat Clearance'Volunteers, outlined against the sky, prepare to work on an area of invasive Corsican pine tree seedlings
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Volunteers who care about the environment were out in force on Sunday helping to preserve sand dunes which are part of Holkham’s National Nature Reserve.

The dunes not only protect a valuable inland agricultural landscape, but are also an increasingly important habitat for a whole range of important animals and plants.

Holkham Habitat Clearance'Sarah Atkinson looks amongst  vigorously growing Holm oak seedlings for Corsican pines

Holkham Habitat Clearance'Sarah Atkinson looks amongst vigorously growing Holm oak seedlings for Corsican pines

The dunes are known as grey dunes because they contain some decomposed organic matter unlike yellow dunes which are pure sand.

They range along the coast on the coastward side of a strip of mainly Corsican pine trees known locally as The Pine Woods or The Meals.

Guiding the band of workers was Holkham reserve warden Andy Bloomfield, who said the trees had provided an additional benefit by stopping sand that blew onto the fields degrading the soil.

He said: “The pine woods were planted to stabilise the sand dunes and the sea defences in the 1800’s.”

Holkham Habitat Clearance'Angus Bloomfield, fills a large bag with Corsican pine seedlings

Holkham Habitat Clearance'Angus Bloomfield, fills a large bag with Corsican pine seedlings

More recently it has been realised the dunes were also of great ecological value as a home to invertebrates, such as rare spiders, and flowers, birds and mammals.

Preventing invasive species, such as Holm Oak, and the pine tree seedlings, that would destroy the wild life habitat, is a constant battle with nature.

Volunteers normally turn out on the last Sunday of each moth during the winter to keep the young trees at bay. This time the attack was on the pine tree seedlings which were pulled up by their roots.

On other occasions, the work is concentrated on the Holm oak which must be sawn off at the base and spot treated with chemicals.

Holkham Habitat Clearance'Volunteer Ken Foster, uprooted Corsican pine seedlings in hand, and Edward Shepperd scour the top of one sand dune

Holkham Habitat Clearance'Volunteer Ken Foster, uprooted Corsican pine seedlings in hand, and Edward Shepperd scour the top of one sand dune

No one counted the number of pine seedlings uprooted but they filled large bags and numbered many hundreds.

Anyone interested in getting involved with the programme should phone 01328 800730 for further details.

Holkham Habitat Clearance'Holkham reserve warden, Andy Bloomfield shows three volunteers, from left, Gina Atkinson, Peter Lynn and Sarah Atkinson a typical Corsican pine tree seedling

Holkham Habitat Clearance'Holkham reserve warden, Andy Bloomfield shows three volunteers, from left, Gina Atkinson, Peter Lynn and Sarah Atkinson a typical Corsican pine tree seedling